The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tiarnan, the microbiologist.

On the 5th January, 2010, Tiarnan approached me with a magnifiying glass in his left hand, as I lay down in rest.

He put the lens up to his eye and peered down at the skin on my arm.

I thought this a very curious thing to do.

"What are you doing, Tiarnan?"

"I am looking for bacteria.", he announced, seriously, in his little high pitched voice.

I found myself smiling as I watched him peering intently at my magnified skin. No doubt he would not be able to see any bacteria, but no doubt, too, the view would be very interesting to a three year old.

His action was strangely revealing. It meant that he understood that bacteria were very small and could not be seen with the naked eye - but it also meant that he didn't understand quite how small they were - the magnifying lens being insufficient. Nevertheless, he had the right idea, in essence, and at least he understood that the lens would "make things bigger".

I let him peer away, as he moved the lens across any revealed skin, to see what he could find. There was another thing that he clearly understood: that bacteria would be found living on human skin. He is not wrong.

Perhaps we have another little scientist in the house. I don't know...but we shall see.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 6, or Tiarnan, exactly 4, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, College, University, HELP University College, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Computer Programming, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, prodigy, genie, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. Thanks.

IMDB is the Internet Movie Database for film and tv professionals. If you would like to look at my IMDB listing, for which about another fifteen credits have yet to be uploaded. This will take many months before they are approved. Please go to: for my listing. Ainan’s listing is at My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley’s listing is at:

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 5:54 PM 


Anonymous Li Jen said...

Possibly he tried to look at his own arm and found nothing, hence venturing to the giant in the house :)

8:27 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Maybe so, Li Jen. I don't know. Whatever the case it was a funny moment.

Best wishes

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Valentine,

that's interesting. We know that children are smart - often they are smarter than many adults. Perhaps children are even smarter than we think.

While reading about your experience with Tiarnan I was reminded of a similar experience I once had. It also involved an arm and a magnifying glass.

In general one should probably not read too much into it (I'm not implying and I don't think that you do) but it certainly is telling when a child makes that connection. Thank you for the new perspective.

Kind regards,

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. You can view 'The world's cleverest child' on YouTube:

- (Ainan's part)

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:

Have you seen the Child Genius series, which was shown on Channel 4 (England) in 2007 and 2008?

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. When you do watch the YT videos I suggest to ignore most of the comments there. Many people there are very hostile and rude. I don't know what it is about YT that inspires people to be so rude. A perfect stranger once insulted me in a way that I have never experienced before. I deleted my YT profile immediately afterwards.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

No, Carina, I haven't seen the Child Genius series. Was it good?

Yes, you are right. The online anonymity seems to bring out the worst in people. They seem to compete for being as idiotic in their "opinions" as possible. It is a pity. The internet has such potential to help people grow...and that is what they use it for.

Thanks for the links.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you heard of the Yale University courses that are available for free? There are courses ranging from Physics and Chemistry to English and History.

This is the Physics Playlist:

... and this is the Organic Chemistry Playlist:

I was watching one of the videos tonight and thought that perhaps this would be interesting for Ainan. The course overview can be found here:

Thank you for your comments, Valentine. I will respond to them to them as soon as possible.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Carina, your tips are greatly appreciated. I will let Ainan know about them.

He likes visually presented material best of all...

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're very welcome. I just remembered that Berkeley also offers this service:

7:21 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks Carina.

Best wishes.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Child Genius - "Was it good?"

The first season of Child Genius introduced us to the children. Professor Joan Freeman undertook IQ tests with the children. The measured IQs ranged from 137 to 170.

Channel 4 then told the viewer a little more about each child as the program progressed. One could not help but establish an emotional connection with some of the children.

Some children like Michael Dowling and Aimee Kwan had already accomplished something whereas one boy did not attend school and only studied chess. He was homeschooled by his father but it seemed as if the son was teaching the father.

The third season is supposed to air this year but it is not certain whether that will actually happen.

Two (of the three) parts are available online:

What do you think?

8:29 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Carina,

I will try to look at the two Child Genius programmes sometime.

Until then, I cannot comment, of course. Though I must say that I do wonder about Joan Freeman's tact. I have seen her make rude remarks about gifted children, or their parents, in the past. I have even heard of her putting down the siblings of a gifted child, in front of the children! (Is she somewhat autistic/Asperger's I wonder...for she shows considerable lack of tact, at times?)

I will write more at another time, when I have had time to digest the programmes.


12:25 PM  

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